At long last I am re-reading some of Justice William O. Douglas’s heartfelt environmental writings from the 1950s. It was not a time for great conservation action. It was before the Wilderness Act. Before the Environmental Protection Agency. More than decade before DDT was banned. Years before lead additives were banned from gasoline…or house paint. There were no National Scenic Rivers, no air pollution regs. No Nuclear Test Ban Treaty [how many Millenials even know what “fall out” means? Lucky them]. It was a dreamland for polluters and resource exploiters.
No wonder so many right-wingers wanted Douglas drive off the Supreme Court. Douglas (1898-1980) was appointed to the court by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 when Douglas was only 40 years old.He was a native of Washington State.
But what Douglas had to say then is still relevant, touching and brave. Some select bits from My Wilderness The Pacific West. 1960.
Alaska’s Brooks Range: Brooks Range “…here were pools never touched by man—unspoiled, uncontaminated except by the fall-out from the atomic bombs that is slowly poisoning the whole earth.”
“We look to the heavens for help and uplift, but it is to the earth we are chained; it is from the earth that we must find out sustenance; it is on the earth that we must find solution to the problems that promise to destroy all life here.”
Charles Darwin in his Autobiography “If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
“I never sleep better than when I am under a tree, and all the trees I choose the Sitka spruce first.”
Hart Mountain in Eastern Oregon: “There is a place in man life’s for the antelope [pronghorn], just as there is for the whir of sage grouse and the song of the thrush. There would be a great emptiness in the land if there were no pelicans wheeling in great circles over Hart Mountain, no antelope fawn in its aspen groves, no red-shafted flickers in its willow. I say the same for the coyote and golden eagle.…This refuge will leave our grandsons and granddaughters an inheritance of the wilderness that no dollars could recreate… Those who visit Hart Mountain next century will know that we were faithful life tenants, that we did no entirely despoil the earth which we left them.”
“It struck me that man sometimes seems to crowd everything but himself out of the universe.”
“Mt. Adams is so high and massive it makes me shrink to the pint of ashes that man represents in the terrestrial scheme. The roar of the river comes faintly up the canyon. Above the road can be heard the whine of the wind. All else is quiet. A golden eagle soars high in the void, catching a wind current. Nothing else moves.”
“I have seen in my lifetime a wilderness of trails remade into a maze of roads. There is hardly a place these days a jeep will not reach. The network of roads is so vast and intricate that almost every wilderness area is threatened.”
“Man must be able to escape civilization if he is to survive. Some of his greatest needs are for refuges and retreats where he can recapture for a day or a week the primitive conditions of life.”
Olympic Mountains, Washington: “At least fifty living glaciers flank these peaks, three on Mt. Olympus being two miles or more in length.”
Wikipedia says this about one of the many public spaces or institutions named after this great conservationist: “The 1984 Washington Wilderness Act designated the Cougar Lake Roadless area as the William O. Douglas Wilderness. This wilderness, which adjoins Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, is named in his honor.”
Posted in birds, conservation, global warming, mammals, natural history, oregon, Washington State | Tags: Alaska, Brooks Range, fall out, Franklin Roosevelt, glaciers, Mt. Adams, nuclear test ban, Olympic Mountains, pronghorn, radiation, Sage-Grouse, Supreme Court, volcano, wilderness, Willian O. Douglas
I’ve had the chance to bird Rotary Park a few times in the two weeks we’ve lived here. Up to 22 species for the area so far. It is much dryer than what appears to be usual. The pond surface has shrunk down to a pondlet clogged with duck weed. Much of the lakebed now overgrown with willow, cottonwood and grass. Baker Creek is running low but the dense riparian habitat is full of berries and insects still
Rotary Park (Tice Park), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 31, 2015 9:15 AM – 10:00 AM. 9 species
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi) 1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) 1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 1
Here is another series of shots of the Great Gray Owl family that Andy Huber has been aiding in northeastern Oregon, widowed mother, four nestlings and much hunting to do. Andy stepped in and live trapped small rodents for the family. Success as all four owlets (a larger than usual “litter” this far south) are maturing and in full flight now. Cleaning the talons: Preening post-ablutions.
The Greenpeace protestors are hanging on, despite threatened fines from a local judge against Greenpeace. Meanwhile Shell Oil can’t get its icebreaker out of Portland’s river harbor. Here are pictures from the St. John’s Bridge (an art deco beauty BTW) taken by Tom Duane: Meanwhile, Shell says it can’t drill in the Arctic Sea without its icebreaker present. But if they keep fueling climate change there won;t be any ice and they can drill at the North Pole then.
The chattering classes which covers pols, lobbyists, reporters and their various apologists have given the “public trough” a bad name. But in this instance I am speaking of a birdbath there for all birds to use.
One of the most frequent and presumably appreciative of the visitors to my public trough is the local Red-breasted Nuthatch. Unlike the Bushtits he or she comes alone. And the nuthatch alternates between taking a small piece of sunflower seed off to eat and then get a drink.
So delicate is this small bird’s beak work that taking a drink from an otherwise un-riffled birdbath stirs only the faintest of wavelets that the concentric circles move barely two inches from where the bird took its tiny sip.
When the nuthatch firsat arrives he clings to the side of our largest dawn redwood, then lands briefly on the feeder pole to complete his reconnoiter, then down to the platform or the bath. These blurs are part of a circling swarm of swift’s, Vaux’s to be exact. At least twenty moved over our house as they worked the area one evening. In the shade beneath the trees of our garden are numerous “garden” spiders. Small fellows with symmetrical, carefully woven webs. Seen as a beautiful bit of architecture when the light is right.
I also noted my first passing dragonfly this morning. The butterflies so far have been only cabbage white and one tiger swallowtail. There is a single squirrel.
Update, July 31: There is now talk of trying to ban Americans from trophy hunting. Not much likely of that passing in a Republican, freedom-uber-alles, Congress…but it’s an idea that may eventually spread.
Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and a dentist from Minnesota. Some of the infamous trophy hunters of the past 150 years. But perhaps that dentist did something that will end up helping wildlife survive in spite of arrogant, ignorant, rapacious humans. Perhaps…
Could Cecil death lead to end of trophy hunting, pay your money kill your trophy animal? It’s big business for some African governments. How about the world chip in and pay them so much for every week an animal is NOT killed?
And here’s a second. Poor dentist had to shut his practice. I predict he will move and assume a new name. Pity any family he has. Sometimes the cluelessness of white males astounds even me, and I’m one of those myself. Can you imagine any woman anywhere hunting a lion with bow and arrow?
I can’t help it but I imagine the American who killed a well-known male lion in Africa would instantly quote Biblical passages purporting to justify all of men’s transgression against other creatures on Earth. “Dominion,” that’s the word, right?
Well, it’s a big victory for the NRA because this killing was legal and not even on U.S. soil. I will note it took a gun, couldn’t finish off the lion with just a bow and arrow. So much for the claims that big creatures (like movie-goers) could be slaughtered even if there were gun control in the U.S. Swords are used in China for mass attacks and they are almost never as deadly as gun attacks have been and continue to be.
Note the gunman in the Louisiana theater killed two women, and has a long personal history of hating feminism and uppity women. Calls are being made for it to be clearly labelled a hate crime.
The State of Oregon Is getting close to making some strong pro-grouse moves. Here’s a report on the status of the pro-grouse regs.
This photo was taken at the lek off Foster Flat Road west of Malheur NWR a few years ago by Peter Kreisman…at dawn. The sagebrush steppe of eastern Oregon is perfect habitat for this species. The only other place I’ve seen them is on a montane plateau east of the Sierra Nevada and south of Mono Lake.
- Agate Lake
- Bear Creek
- Coast Range
- ducks & geese
- ducks and geese
- Emigrant Lake
- Eurasian birds
- European birds
- global warming
- Hawaii birds
- Howard Prairie Lake
- Klamath Basin
- migratory birds
- Mount Ashland
- natural history
- ocean birds
- ornithology history
- Rogue River
- san francisco
- San JUan Islands
- Table Rock
- tropical birds
- tyrant flycatcher
- Washington State
- Willamette Valley
- winter birds
- Yamhill County